The Selous Game Reserve is one of the largest and oldest protected areas in the world, designated as a World Heritage Site for its diversity of wildlife and untouched landscapes. This reserve is also the final resting place of the famed hunter and conservationist, Sir Frederick Selous, who hunted with Teddy Roosevelt, and was killed by a German sniper along the banks of the Rufiji River in 1917 during World War One. Established in 1922, the Selous Game Reserve is perhaps the most iconic African safari destination, home to large herds of elephant, a small but vitally important population of black rhino, thousands of African buffalo and East Africa’s largest lion population.
Poaching activity over the past decade has seriously undermined the conservation status of the Selous Game Reserve (SGR), and elephant populations have declined dramatically. In 1976, SGR was home to the largest elephant population in the world. But over the past decade, poachers, attracted by the large number of elephants and concealed by the remoteness of the wilderness, have severely reduced the population. A recent DNA study showed that 53% of ivory seizures made between 2006 and 2014 throughout the world were traced to elephants poached in the greater Selous ecosystem. Poaching threatens the region’s jumbo tuskers, but also other biodiversity, national security, tourism, and community livelihoods.
Anti-poaching foot patrols are the main approach used across Africa to combat this illegal activity. These efforts require significant amounts of financial resources but are often lacking in effectiveness. Despite large investments, detection and arrest levels remain low in many places. Ranger patrols often lack the necessary information on poaching movement and wildlife distribution to inform their patrol plans. In many areas, patrolling is done on an ad-hoc basis, without the aid of evidence-based structures to evaluate and improve anti-poaching effectiveness.
To save Selous, this campaign will increase the capacity of anti-poaching patrols to incorporate patrol-monitoring technology in their strategy. A class of 20 employees from the game reserve, Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority and the College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka (CAWM) will undergo advanced training on using the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART), as well as acoustic gunshot detection systems and CyberTracker field data collection technologies. The project is designed to increase the return on investment in anti-poaching by optimizing deployment in response to field evidence in a timely manner. These tools will help determine poaching patterns to more effectively mobilize anti-poaching resources, increasing detection rates and number of arrests.
CAWM is a pioneer institution in advancing wildlife management in Africa and developing training programs. The college was established in 1963 to address the need to protect and manage Africa’s natural heritage and continues to be a leader. Since its inception, CAWM has trained over 5,000 graduates from 52 countries worldwide, including the majority of wildlife managers in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Ghana, and Sudan.
Your donation to the Endanger Poaching campaign will support the establishment of an advanced ranger training program, leading to increased effectiveness of anti-poaching operations and allowing the recovery of elephant and other wildlife populations. Improving the conservation status of a World Heritage Site will improve local community livelihoods and help guarantee that hunting in this iconic landscape continues in perpetuity.